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March's moon is the 'Full Worm'

Mar 2, 2012 - By Carolyn B. Tyler

The Full Worm Moon shines next Thursday, March 8, very early in the morning.

The moon rises at 5:51 p.m. the night before and reaches its brightest (full) at 2:41 a.m. on the 8th, rising again in full glory that night at 7:08 p.m.

It's not a very classy-sounding full moon name, but it signals the Spring season.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, The Full Worm Moon was given its name by the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior.

At the time of this spring moon, the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins.

The weather also warms enough to invite night time sky-watching.

The monthly look at the night skies of the northern Rocky Mountains, written by astronomers Ron Canterna, University of Wyoming; Jay Norris, Challis, Idaho Observatory; and Daryl Macomb, Boise State University, tells us that:

"For observers in the northern latitudes, the March skies provide us with one of the most spectacular views of the Milky Way.

"The Milky Way, the hazy band of unresolved stars, stretches from the southern horizon through the constellations Gemini and Auriga; then to the she-goat, the yellowish star Capella; passing Perseus; and then northward to the north cardinal point on the horizon through Cassiopeia.

"Orion, the prominent winter constellation you have probably been watching most of the winter months, sets about three hours after sunset. To the southeast of Orion, one can see Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

"Watch Venus and Jupiter (the two brightest objects in the eastern night sky) move relative to each other during the month. Venus gets closer to Jupiter and the closest approach (or conjunction) occurs March 14, when they will be separated by three degrees.

"Look for Mars in the night sky, with its closest approach to the Earth on March 3. This also is called the opposition of Mars (opposite the sun). Saturn rises around 10 p.m., so take these fantastic opportunities to view the planets before summer arrives."

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